SUICIDE BOMB AT
U.S BASE IN AFGHANISTAN TARGETS CHENEY
Vice president said
he heard a loud boom, but is safe. Up to 23 are killed in suicide bomber attack.
KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber blew himself up this morning outside the main gate of
the U.S. military base at Bagram while
Vice President Dick Cheney was inside the base. Cheney was not hurt in the attack.
The explosion killed and wounded a number of American and allied soldiers, Afghan and Pakistani
truck drivers and laborers waiting for access at the gate. There were conflicting reports of the number of casualties and
At least one U.S.
soldier, an American contractor and a South Korean solder were among the dead, NATO said.
The incident took place at the outermost security gate of the sprawling base, far from where
Cheney was staying at the time.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing and said Cheney was the target of the attack,
news agencies reported. Qari Yousef Ahmadi, who claimed to be a Taliban spokesman, told The Associated Press: “We knew
that Dick Cheney would be staying inside the base.” He said the bombing was carried out by Mullah Abdul Rahim. A few
hours after the attack, Cheney traveled to Kabul to meet with President Hamid Karzai, and later
left Afghanistan to fly to Oman.
Speaking to reporters who are traveling with him, Cheney said he was in his quarters at the
airbase when the explosion took place.
“I heard a loud boom,” he said, according to a pool report. “The Secret
Service came in and told me there had been an attack on the main gate.”
Cheney was moved “for a brief period of time” to a bomb shelter at the base, he
said, but then returned to his room. He said he had never felt that he was in any danger.
The vice president had spent the night at the sprawling Bagram Air Base, ate breakfast with
the troops, and met with Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez, the commander of U.S.
troops in Afghanistan.
He was preparing to leave for a meeting with Karzai when the suicide bomber struck about 10
a.m., sending up a plume of smoke visible by reporters accompanying him. U.S.
military officials declared a "red alert" at the base.
Asked if the Taliban were trying to send a message with the attack, Cheney said: "I think
they clearly try to find ways to question the authority of the central government."
"Striking at Bagram with a suicide bomber, I suppose,
is one way to do that," he said. "But it shouldn't affect our behavior at all."